If you’re not familiar with adaptogens then prepare to be wowed by the power of Mother Earth’s fascinating classification of powerful herbs that carry high-level medicinal properties. Another fad you ask? It might seem that way with all the buzz but adaptogens have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Adaptogens are a unique type of herb classification that have the AMAZING ability to work like a thermostat and adapt to your body’s specific needs. Their naturally occurring chemicals produce an effect of regulating and normalizing the body. They can increase energy production, decrease stress and encourage rest. The feeling they produce is described as a sustained sense of calm, acting as a natural stress protector, and non-stimulatory, natural mood enhancers.
It’s important to note that adaptogenic herbs do not alter mood directly. Rather, they help the body function optimally during times of stress. Lifted mood is a byproduct of handling stress more easily.
We briefly touched on adaptogens several weeks ago in our post 6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism and how they can help boost your metabolic rate. But now it’s time to dive in a little deeper to explain how they can truly work medicinal miracles on your body.
To be classified as an adaptogen, the herb must meet three specific criteria:
1. It must be safe and natural for consumption.
2. It must help the body regulate and cope with stress.
3. It must have balancing properties for your hormones.
So how do adaptogens work on your body anyway?
Imagine these plants and herbs as little doses of ZEN for your sympathetic nervous system. Your SNS is your stress system and controls inflammation throughout your body. In fact, chronic inflammation is linked to many of the common ailments we see today. And because we live in a chaotic world, we often come home feeling irritable, exhausted and flat out emotionally fatigued.
Hormonal imbalances cause adrenal fatigue, lower sex drive and thyroid problems. Other issues caused by hormonal imbalances include:
* auto immune diseases
* chronic fatigue syndrome
* common colds
* irritable bowl syndrome
* weight loss resistance
Adaptogens do not have a specific action they react to but instead respond to ALL stressors and work to combat all of the body’s imbalances. Some adaptogens have the abilities to:
* balance the immune system
* regenerate brain cells
* protect the liver
* promote heart health
* lower cholesterol
* lower cortisol levels (stress hormone)
* alleviate anxiety and depression
* fight and prevent cancer
All adaptogens combat inflammation and work to balance hormones but they are all unique, just like us. Each adaptogen has a unique skill set they promote so let’s dive a little deeper to look at our top picks.
Our Top 7 Adaptogens Worth Checking Out
1. Ashwagandha – Lifts Your Spirits and Supports Thyroid
Ashwagandha improves endocrine function and is a calming rather than stimulating adaptogen. This makes it effective in the treatment of anxiety, fatigue, confusion and nervous exhaustion. It’s rich in iron to help treat iron-deficiency and enhances cognition and improved memory.
2. Maca – Mood Boosting & Energizing
Maca, a Peruvian powerhouse, delivers natural and sustainable energy, mental stamina, hormonal balance, enhanced libido and elevated mood. It also helps to increase your endurance and mental balance.
3. Holy Basil – Clears the Mental Fog
Known as the elixir of anti-aging, holy basil’s benefits include helping you fight fatigue and brain fog, increase cognitive function, regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels and also helps relieve gas and bloating.
4. Licorice Root – Soothing the Stomach & Gut
Licorice root is great for increasing energy and endurance + boosting the immune system. It’s also a soothing adaptogen that’s a natural remedy for heartburn, nausea, indigestion, PMS, stomach ulcers and stomach pain.
5. Asian Ginseng – Natural Pick-Me-Up
Asian ginseng, a heavily studied herb, has been shown to normalize immune function and treat adrenal exhaustion. It’s great when you need a pick-me-up without the jitters of caffeine. As well as improving mental performance, ginseng also has antioxidant effects, antidepressant effects, can help naturally lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as increase muscle strength and endurance.
6. Astragalus Root – Immune Support
Astragalus is best known as an immunity booster, helping to prevent colds, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections. An energy builder, this adaptogen is popular today with cancer patients to help counter the side effects of radiation treatments and chemotherapy. It’s also great for adrenal fatigue syndrome.
7. Milk Thistle – Healthy Skin + Liver Detoxification
Milk thistle is helpful and powerful when it comes to detoxifying the liver and supporting the health of your kidneys and gall bladder. Because it has high levels of antioxidants, milk thistle also has the ability to help support healthy skin and prevent signs of aging!
Adaptogens come in lots of different forms, including pills that resemble vitamins, tinctures that can be mixed with water, powders which you can add to a smoothie.
How Do You Take Them?
There’s no right way to consume them because it’s really a matter of personal preference. Many people take adaptogens almost every day, while others will take them several times a day based on their needs. It’s recommended that you take a day off from your adaptogens each week if you’re using them for more than six week and if you’re using them for six months or more, it’s recommended to take a full month off every six months. These little breaks are said to let the herbs really take effect in your system.
And if you don’t notice a difference instantly, be patient as adaptogens are powerful but slow-acting so it can take up to a few weeks to notice a difference.
Make sure that you do a little research of your own before taking adaptogens as some might cause sensitivity if you have certain chronic health conditions.
Please share your success stories with adaptogens as we love hearing from you!
Happy and healthy blessings,
The Blendtopia Team